BUSI KHESWA | Partnership helps youth transition to life in society
Young people in care centres helped to gain life skills, increase employability
Child Protection Week is commemorated in SA annually to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the constitution of the Republic of South Africa and Children’s Act (Act No 38 of 2005)
The campaign is led by the department of social development in partnership with key government departments and civil society organisations that render child protection services. During this week the government calls on all South Africans to support Child Protection Week in ensuring that the most vulnerable in society do not suffer abuse. It is in our hands to stop the cycle of neglect, abuse, violence and exploitation of children.
Protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse is not only a basic value but also an obligation clearly set out in article 28 of the SA constitution.
According to reports 5.4-million children around the world are being raised in orphanages, and there are 21,000 children living in orphanages in SA. The government refers to these homes as child and youth care centres.
In these centres are residential facilities that provide care, support and services to vulnerable children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to various reasons, such as abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Below are some of the common services rendered at these centres
- Residential care: The centres offer a safe and stable living environment for children who cannot live with their families.
- Basic needs: The centres provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare to ensure the well-being of the children
- Education and schooling: The centres facilitate the education of children by either providing on-site schooling or ensuring their enrolment in nearby schools.
- Counselling and therapy: Emotional and psychological support is an essential aspect of care at these centres.
- Life skills and social development: The centres focus on equipping children with essential life skills to enhance their personal and social development.
- Family reunification or alternative care: The ultimate goal of these centres is to reintegrate children with their families whenever possible.
- Aftercare and support: The centres may provide aftercare services to young adults transitioning out of the centre’s care.
However, with all these interventions, the effect is lifelong, and the beneficiaries often leave these centres as young adults who are unprepared to enter the workforce and unprepared for independent living.
So, the Gauteng department of social development has partnered with Hope and Homes for Children, an international organisation that supports among others successful, sustainable and supported transition of youth 11–21 years into independent living within communities. Deloitte professionals from SA will be working with Hope and Homes for Children to support young people transitioning out of child and youth care centres to gain life skills and increase their employability through tailored workshops..
These skills will include empowerment in inspirational speech, career guidance, basic financial literacy, employment readiness, and basic digital literacy. The programme will assist those who are 16 and above to get them ready for life out of these institutions.
Studies have shown that the majority of the young people attending sessions will have a low level of prior knowledge on these topics and have had limited exposure to life outside institutions.
Having Hope and Homes for Children and Deloitte on board will ensure that the Gauteng social development’s independent living programme is strengthened, and the lives of the children improve for the better.
These partnerships are necessary as we acknowledge as a government that we cannot work alone. As we observe Children Protection Week, let us celebrate such partnerships for the betterment of society. Let us celebrate what these beneficiaries will yield at the end through such partnerships. Together we can achieve more.
• Kheswa is with the Gauteng department of social development
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